Sunday, October 1, 2023


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life

I was a teenage air-traffic controller.

"The universe is not complicated, There’s just a lot of it."--Physicist Richard Feynman

jimjustsaying’s Fortune Cookie Message of the Month (courtesy of Huan Xi, Milwaukee): “You are the center of every group’s attention.”  (How DID THEY know??? Incredible!)

Brands of beer that were once sold in the United States: Bull Frog, Purple Cow, Kool Mule, King Turkey, Happy Hops, Quittin' Time, Old Cars and Gorilla.  ("Hey, bro, while you're up, get me another can a that Quittin' Time, will ya?")

The Law of Unintended Consequences will never be repealed.

It has come to this:  Headline: “Users rate which stores are easiest to steal from.”

Where is the odious intel coming from?  That social media abomination called TikTok, where Walmart, Walgreens and The Dollar Tree were ranked the easiest.  (The end of the world as we knew it!)

Re the problem of finding public bathrooms—a problem that is universal and increasing--several business owners have come forth with reasons for not having facilities open to the public:

Says one: “I own a retail store, and at one time my bathrooms were open to the public. This was until my bathrooms were being used for drug deals and injections. With people marching in and out of the store to use, buy or sell drugs, I had to shut down the parade.”

Says another: “While I am sympathetic to the people with conditions that make for urgent trips to the bathroom, I am a huge NO on forcing businesses to open their employee-only restroom to a customer. The employee bathroom is usually in a backroom area where there is stock not yet tagged with antitheft devices, employee shelves, lockers, coat racks, etc. And there is the ever-present danger the customer will make a horrific mess and not clean it up. Hard NO.”

Good points all, but one wonders what these store owners do when they are on the other side of the fence? 

"If you're the smartest person in the room, find another room."--Michael Dell,

For baseball fans only:

What do Pat Borders, Marquis Grissom, Adam Kennedy, Mike Devereaux, Sterling Hitchcock, Mike Lowell, Eddie Perez, Cody Ross and Jeff Suppan have in common?

Answer: All of these not-exactly-household-name players were postseason MVPs sometime during the last 20 years.   (And some of baseball’s biggest stars—Barry Bonds being the most recent—have been abysmal playoff flops.)

Baseball pregame shows (and there ARE 162 games, compared to pro football’s 18!) are a colossal waste of time, repetitive time-fillers.  The only people who watch them are the people who tuned in thinking the game was starting.

"Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many players on the field?"--Jim Bouton, author of the baseball classic “Ball Four.”

I'm not saying I'm a mediocre poker player, but let's just say nobody ever called me Amarillo Jim!

I see where Alaska has been named the No. 1 most sexually diseased state in the country, followed by Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and several other states.  (Alaska may be "America's Last Frontier" but at least they now have a “first” to its credit.  Congrats!)

At least the residents still get their annual dividend from the state's co-called Permanent Fund--in 2022 a record $3,284 (after a paltry $1,114 in 2021).

But "Alaska, The State That Has to Bribe People to Live There," won't fit on a license plate.  More's the pity.  (True, $3,284 sounds like a lot, but ask any of the 50th state’s residents if that comes close to offsetting the sky-high prices of groceries and other goods that residents pay due to the much higher transportation costs of said goods. So the “dividend” is just (partial?) reimbursement for their cost of living. And the ice fog.

“To the world, you may be just one person. But to one person, you may be the world.”—Brandt Snyder

jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should of the month: “Kawashocki.”  n. The feeling experienced when pulling into a parking space between two cars and suddenly realizing there is a motorcycle already parked there.—“Sniglets,” Rich Hall and Friends

The Friendly But Not-So-Safe Skies?

Nearly 5,000 pilots are suspected of hiding major health issues.

Federal authorities have been investigating the pilots, who are suspected of falsifying medical records to conceal problems that could make them unfit to fly.

Most of the pilots under investigation are still flying. And about 600 of them are licensed to fly for passenger airlines, according to one U.S. official.

An idiom in the English language that has never made sense to me: “Under the weather,” as in, “Joe couldn’t make it today; he’s under the weather.”  So when Joe is well and shows up, is he “over the weather. Even with the weather”?  (A silly euphemism! Just say he is sick or not feeling well and leave the meteorology out of it!)

And in my continuing uphill battle against imprecise speech there is this:  People will enumerate examples of whatever subject they’re discussing, or whatever has gone wrong, or what idiocies they have observed, and end by saying, “The list goes on and on and on.”

Whenever you hear that, you can bet your bottom dollar that they have in fact exhausted said list and probably couldn’t come up with another example of their “endless list” if their life depended on it.  (Another example of a flawed figure of speech or verbal tic that took hold and won’t let go.)

Oxymoronic America: "Genuine vinyl," "authentic replica" and "nonstop flight."  (Hey, I want to get off at some point! You mean the nonstop to New York doesn't stop in New York?)

Sign on door of a Target store: “Only service animals permitted." What it should say: "Guide Dogs permitted; no other animals allowed." That would take us humans out of the trespasser category.  (Say what you want about Wal-Mart, but I haven't seen a sign that idiotic on any of its doors.)

Redundancy Patrol: "Enter in," "pick and choose," "natural instinct."

jimjustsaying’s Fall Foliage Report (as a public service to you, my devoted readers): Turns out there’s a new wrinkle: The forecast for the brightest hues is getting trickier. Climate change affects when leaves change--and how colorful they get, Axios reports.

DRUDGING AROUND: Why bearded men are more attractive, according to science . . . Florida school vouchers can pay for TVs, kayaks, theme parks . . . Colorado family trying to live off grid died of malnutrition, hypothermia . . .  Montana town faces homeless problem similar to SF and LA . . . STUDY: Opposites don’t attract; couples likely to be more similar than different . . . Health effects of weed laid bare . . . A baby’s brown eyes turned bright blue after antiviral treatment . . . People rely on laxatives so much there aren’t enough to go around . . . Atheist says he died and returned and now believes in God . . . School faces backlash after hiring drag queen as principal . . . Adults ordering from kids’ menu to save money . . . TRAVEL HELL:  Couple seated next to farting dog that drooled on their legs . . . Shoplifting battle getting dangerous for workers. (Thanks to Matt Drudge and Co.)

People Mr. Popcorn is doing his best to avoid these days:

--People who pretend the shopping-cart corral doesn’t exist.

--People who wear sweatpants/sweatsuits (glorified pajamas) and shower clogs in public (and even to church).  Ditto sports team regalia.

--People who either don’t signal their turns or signal them halfway through the turn you already know they are making.

--People who answer cell phones . . . where they absolutely shouldn’t. 

--People who leave their fast-food garbage on the tables, usually forcing the next person who wants to use said table to do it for them.

--People who decide not to buy those pork chops they had put in their cart and abandon them on a shelf next to the canned goods or dish detergent. 

Ah, Madison Avenue, that bastion of annoying, bizarre and downright distorted advertising. Viewing commercials today would have you think that interracial couplings (white-black, primarily) are now the rule in America . . . although U.S. Census Bureau statistics list them as 11.9 percent.  (So how are we supposed to believe flowery product claims when they’re painting downright inaccurate pictures of America right and left?)

He said it: “Whatever you do, always give 100 percent.  Unless you’re giving blood.”—Bill Murray

She said it: “News is what somebody wants suppressed.  Everything else is advertising.”—Katherine Graham

I see where Vladimir Putin rolled out the red carpet for North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-Un.  Gala state dinner, no doubt.

EntrĂ©e?  Filet of Doberman?  Casserole a la Canine? German Shepherd’s Pie? Make the guy feel right at home! (Remember, I don’t always agree with everything I say!)

jimjustsaying’s Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month: “Shrimp.” As in, Helen “Shrimp” Panetti Stout, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 18, 2023.  R.I.P., “Shrimp.”

 A study of rat brains revealed how play can improve mental health.

The study: Researchers identified groups of cells in a part of the brain involved in instinctive behaviors, like pain perception and defense, that lit up while the rats were being tickled.

What it means: The urge to play is deeply ingrained in the brain. And understanding its neurological basis could help develop new therapies for troubled children.

I understand that there is a new cut-rate insurance firm in the marketplace:  Mutual of Mukwonago.

Another in jimjustsaying's series of Media Words:  Words you see or hear only in print or on news broadcasts and never hear anyone use in real life:  "hustings."  (As in, "The candidates have once again taken to the hustings for another round of campaign speeches.")

“He was identified through polite photographs.”—San Francisco Chronicle, via “Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel.

jimjustsaying’s Stupid Actual Product Package Blurb of the Month: On a bag of Doritos: "You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside."

“Women aren't embarrassed when they buy men's pajamas, but a man buying a nightgown acts as though he were dealing with a dope peddler.”—Jimmy Cannon

I think I could stand it if I never ever heard another commercial touting Free Credit Report Dot Com.

Today’s Latin Lesson: Populus qui nos ad annos 70 laborare volunt, iidem sunt qui nos post annos 50 non conducunt. (“The people who want us to work to age 70 are the same people who won’t hire us after age 50.”)

Thanks to Simon Saesz, this month’s Popcorn intern.